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February 15, 2013 - Karin Elton
It’s pretty freaky that a meteor exploded above Russia’s Ural Mountains just as the world is expecting an asteroid to zoom by us.
The meteor emitted a flash of light and set off sonic booms, no doubt scaring the bejesus out of the locals. The meteor, which weighed 10 tons, shattered windows and injured hundreds.
The 150-foot asteroid is expected to miss Earth by 17,160 miles and can’t be seen by the naked eye, but is still closer than many of Earth’s communication and weather satellites, according to The Associated Press.
The AP quoted scientists as saying the two events weren’t related, because they were going in different directions, but it’s still unsettling to think of space objects hurtling toward Earth.
"’We are in a shooting gallery and this is graphic evidence of it,’" said former Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, chairman emeritus of the B612 Foundation, committed to protecting Earth from dangerous asteroids. Schweickart noted that 500,000 to 1 million sizable near-Earth objects — asteroids or comets — are out there. Yet less than 1 percent — fewer than 10,000 — have been inventoried. “Humanity has to do better, he said. The foundation is working to build and launch an infrared space telescope to find and track threatening asteroids.
“If a killer asteroid was, indeed, incoming, a spacecraft could, in theory, be launched to nudge the asteroid out of Earth's way, changing its speed and the point of intersection. A second spacecraft would make a slight alteration in the path of the asteroid and ensure it never intersects with the planet again, Schweickart said.”
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